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Dean's blog: Success is no accident

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

The Mason Science motto is Understand. Innovate. Succeed. Most often when I share this phrase, people naturally gravitate toward our collective focus -- the amazing work of our students. Whether it be in the classroom, at the bench or in the field, our students undergo transformative learning experiences to better understand both themselves and the scientific disciplines they pursue at Mason. We prize their innovative spirits and cheer wildly each December and May as we celebrate their graduation as they successfully complete their notable educational milestone. Yet, each year at the college’s Celebration of Success, I am also always blown away by the successes of our people.

With the World Cup frenzy in full force, I can’t help but think perhaps a quote from my favorite player of all time,  Brazilian superstar Pelé, best describes how I feel after discussing the descriptions of the award recipients’ efforts:

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all a love of what you are doing.”

It’s clear that each person coming together to celebrate our collective success has traveled along that same path. There are many days when we love what we do and why we do it which fuels our scientific passion of learning, teaching, and discovering.

This year, we honored staff and faculty for stepping up when leadership was needed; to inspire advocacy and shape policy to stave off hunger; to build community with compassion and streamline processes; to illuminate scientific pathways for the underrepresented; to serve those who serve us; to explore creative online learning environments to meet students where they needed us to be, rather than where we had always been before.

Our honored researchers explore Alzheimer’s, uncover innovative nanotechnology diagnostics to facilitate testing and treatments for cancer, Lyme disease and other infectious diseases, including  underserved populations with limited infrastructure; and explain how biological selection pressures shape the evolution of phenotypes and how those phenotypes govern species interactions and survival.

Yes, we get to work with amazing people who rise to the challenge, and clearly love what they are doing. And like those athletes whose abilities we admire on the pitch, they each inspire us to up our game. And to take a moment to be grateful for the impact our science can have to help others. I think it’s great that we can come together to recognize their talents and to celebrate our science community and the sciences that we all love.

Never was our impact more meaningfully conveyed then when we honored Dr. Donna Fox with a video chocked full of her fans, both students and collaborators, coming together digitally and in person to celebrate her Career Achievement as she approaches her retirement after serving and leading our college, Mason, and the military services through the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program. Like Pelé and Dr. Fox show us, a successful career can occur over decades. And one’s influence can make great things happen.

I deeply appreciate those within our Mason Science community who nominated their colleagues, served on the award review committee and organized the event to facilitate this recognition. There is nothing more gratifying than lifting others up and acknowledging their contributions to inspire others. I know our schedules are packed so it also warmed my heart to see so many of us take time to come together as the Mason Science community to celebrate our collective success as an organization, and a team.

And, to channel the Netflix soccer personality of Ted Lasso, I believe…in us. And there is even more collective success to come. 

Visit the dean's blog for more insights from Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm.